Impose taxes on alcohol, cigarettes to improve PHCs in Nigeria, World Bank Urges FG

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The World Bank Group has urged the Federal Government to impose taxes on alcohol, cigarettes, and sugar-sweetened beverages in order to improve the Primary Health Care centres in Nigeria.

Country Director for Nigeria, World Bank Group, Shubham Chaudhuri disclosed this on Friday in Abuja, at the special National Council on Health (NCH), meeting, organized by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH).

The 2021 theme is “The Journey to Attaining Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Applying Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic Towards Building A Resilient National Health System”.

The 2014 National Health Act recognizes the NCH as the highest policy-making body within the Nigerian health sector.

The responsibilities of the NCH include the protection, promotion, improvement, and maintenance of the health of the citizens of Nigeria and the formulation of policies.

The Council is also tasked with ensuring the delivery of basic health services to the people of Nigeria.

Chaudhuri noted that taxes on tobacco, alcohol, and sugar-sweetened beverages would reduce health risks and expand fiscal space for Universal Health Coverage post-COVID 19.

The country director stated that investing in stronger health systems for all would contribute to tackling rising poverty and inequality.

“This observation brings to the fore once again the imperative of universal health coverage (UHC).

“If we want to improve health in Nigeria. We need to tax the things that are killing us. The economic rationale for taxing these products is strong if we want to save lives and make a better and healthier Nigeria,” he noted.

He added that these health tax increases would have the additional advantage of reducing future health care costs by curbing the growth of the non-communicable diseases that tobacco, alcohol, and sugar-sweetened beverages can cause.